Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Map of Time (Science Fiction)

Perhaps those troubling sounds we hear in the night, the creaking noises we assume are the furniture, are simply the footsteps of a future self watching over us as we sleep, without daring to disturb us. 

The Map of Time, written by Felix J. Palma and translated into English by Nick Castor, is a blend of historical fiction and science fiction, with just a dash of mystery. It is entertaining, sometimes poignant, and sometimes amusing. It is set at the end of the 1800’s and includes both historical and fictional characters.

Briefly, the novel consists of three main storylines that share a number of characters. The real life writer H. G. Wells plays some part in each plot. While the narrator is omniscient, s/he has a personable style. In the first storyline, Andrew falls in love with a prostitute. When she is murdered by Jack the Ripper, Andrew is inconsolable. To save his life, his cousin devises a plot to have Andrew go back in time and kills Jack the Ripper before he kills the woman. In the second plot line, a young woman travels to the year 2000, where a hero saves mankind. She falls in love with him. In order to prevent tragic consequences, H. G. Wells must help out. In the third plotline, people are being murdered with a weapon that does not yet exist. H. G. Wells’ help is enlisted to find the murderer.

The novel contains a beautiful chapter that could easily be a stand alone short story. Earlier in the novel we learn that Wells has a basket, which he gently touches for inspiration when writing his novels. It appears to be some sort of fetish. In this chapter we learn the origins of the basket. After reading one of Wells' short stories, The Elephant Man invites Wells for tea. Wells is both repulsed and fascinated by the man. Finally, Wells sees his humanity.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this novel immensely. I am a fan of time travel novels and of H. G. Wells in particular; I read The Complete Science Fiction Treasury of H. G. Wells earlier this year. I am looking forward to reading Palma's follow-up novel, The Map of the Sky.

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